DUI penalties have increased significantly in the past few decades as legislators attempt to get tough on drunk driving. While a first-time offender may benefit from a plea bargain, the risks of pleading guilty can be quite high. Under the legal system, the prosecutor is not required to offer any type of plea agreement; if he or she decides to do so, it will almost certainly be on his or her terms and right before trial. After an arrest for an alleged drunk driving offense, you should consult with an experienced criminal lawyer immediately to avoid making decisions that could result in a more severe sentence than necessary.
Factors Your Attorney Will Review When Determining Your Defense for a First-Time Offense Charge
If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), your criminal defense lawyer will likely begin by examining any evidence related to your arrest. This may include police reports and witness statements, as well as a chemical analysis report that details the amount of alcohol in your blood system at the time of your alleged offense.
Your attorney will evaluate both the law enforcement officer’s conduct during his investigation and whether you officially submitted to a breathalyzer test or field sobriety tests at the scene. He or she may also consider whether you have an alcohol problem that led to this incident. If so, he or she could present this information to prosecutors in hopes of getting you into an alcohol rehabilitation program rather than prison if convicted.
Legal Penalties for a First DUI Offense
The penalties for your first drunk driving offense will depend on whether the incident occurred in an area considered to be a “safety zone” under the law. If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) while operating a vehicle within 1,000 feet of a school zone or recreation center, any potential sentence is substantially more severe than it would have been otherwise. For example, if you are convicted of DUI with fatalities while inside this safety zone, you could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine as high as $10,000. The minimum fines associated with these violations increase by 100 percent if they occur near school buses when children are outside boarding or leaving them.
Type of Penalties You May Face for a First-Time Offense Charge Based on Blood Alcohol Content Level (BAC)
The number of drinks it takes to put you over the legal limit depends on several factors, including your weight and gender. In general, you can subtract one point from the legal BAC limit for each hour that has passed since you started drinking. For example, if the legal limit in Florida is .08 percent but only two hours have passed since your last drink, it would take at least five drinks to put you over this legal limit.